A new restaurant owner had the bright idea of marketing her business by offering 40-ounce bottles of wine, wrapped in a brown paper bag, served at tables with fake bullet holes in the wall. To Becca Brennan, who’s White and new to Crown Heights, a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood, her marketing scheme was “cheeky.” But longtime Black residents call it a painful exploitation of stereotypes for profit.
The New York Daily News reports that about 100 angry protesters gathered Saturday outside Brennan’s restaurant, Summerhill, which she describes as a “boozy sandwich shop.”
They hung signs outside Summerhill that said, “This is what gentrification looks like.”
Toya Lillard, a 20-year Black resident, told the Gothamist that people of color are not objects to be used in marketing ploys.
“If you are new to this community you are duty bound to do some research,” she added. “To be culturally literate. To know where you are. To know what came before you. It’s not our job to inform you or educate you. It’s yours.”
Justine Stephens, a Black woman who recently moved to Crown Heights, admitted to The Daily News that “people from my culture used to sit on the corner and drink.” But she sharply criticized Brennan for trying “profitize that.” Stephens called it offensive.
Brennan, a Canadian transplant, expressed regret in a statement, via The Daily News:
“I deeply apologize for any offense that my recent comments might have caused. I did not intend to be insensitive to anyone in the neighborhood, and I am sorry that my words caused pain. I made light of serious issues and that was wrong.”
That apology was too little, too late for the protesters, who attracted a large crowd of onlookers. The Gothamist said Brennan mixed cocktails inside Summerhill while as the protesters chanted “Bye, Bye Becky.”